Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Shaun of the Dead

Directed by Edgar Wright and written by Wright and Simon Pegg, Shaun of the Dead is the story of a man trying to sort out his life while a zombie apocalypse emerges in London. The film is a humorous take on the zombie film genre where it pays tribute while putting its own spin where a man and his best friend try to fight off zombies with the small number of friends and family around them. Starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Bill Nighy, and Penelope Wilton. Shaun of the Dead is a witty yet adventurous film from Edgar Wright.

Panic in the streets of London as a zombie apocalypse has taken over where an electronic store employee in a life crisis has to deal with this apocalypse. That’s essentially the premise of the film where it is told in a humorous manner where this man named Shaun (Simon Pegg) and his unemployed slacker friend Ed (Nick Frost) deal with this wave of zombies as Shaun and Ed try to save those they care about including Shaun’s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield), her flat mates David (Dylan Moran) and Diane (Lucy Davis), Shaun’s mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and his stepfather Phillip (Bill Nighy) whom he has a tense relationship with. By hiding at the pub they like to hang out at, they try to evade the zombies where lots of trouble ensues involving Queen, a Winchester rifle, and all sorts of crazy shit. It’s a film that sort of pokes fun at the zombie apocalypse but infuse it with some human drama and laughter where a man deals with growing pains about where his life is going as well as the people who are his friends.

The screenplay by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg play into the idea of people trying to survive this zombie apocalypse where there’s a lot at stake that happens where some drastic decisions are to be made in order to survive. Still, there are these issues that involves the protagonist of Shaun who works at a job that doesn’t go anywhere as his best friend Ed is a total slacker. His girlfriend Liz is frustrated by Shaun’s lack of direction as she’s unaware that her flat mate David has feelings for her despite being with Diane. They all come together with Shaun’s family to evade the apocalypse where a lot of silly things happen where Shaun and his party have to pretend to be zombies in order to blend in to make it to a pub that they all go to. Still, they’re far from being safe where Wright and Pegg add this element of suspense and drama to occur where things intensify as does emotions that would involve Shaun’s relationship with his mother and stepfather.

The direction of Edgar Wright is very lively where Wright definitely pays tribute to the zombie film genre. Notably the films of George Romero who is the godfather of the zombie film genre where it has this energy in terms of horror and suspense but also mix it up with some humor. One key example of this moment of humor is a sequence where Shaun and Ed try to kill zombies with their record collection as they figure out what to throw out. Along the way, they realize what they have to do to kill the zombies and save those they care about as Wright doesn’t mind to portray Shaun and Ed as sort of dim-wits but they’re characters that are just too fun to watch. Even in the dramatic moments where Wright does use some effective framing devices to play up some of the tension and stakes that occur where he knows when not to use humor and put in some suspense instead. Overall, Wright crafts a very smart and extremely funny film that pays tribute to the zombie horror films.

Cinematographer David M. Dunlap does excellent work in creating some unique lighting schemes for many of the film‘s nighttime exterior and interior scenes while going for some straightforward though slightly tinted look for many of the daytime exterior and interior scenes. Editor Chris Dickens does fantastic work with the editing from the use of montages, rhythmic cuts, and some methodical cuts to play up the suspense and humor. Production designer Marcus Rowland and art director Karen Wakefield do terrific work with the set pieces from the house that Shaun and Ed live in to the pub that they hang out at. Costume designer Annie Hardinge does nice work with the costumes from the work clothes that Shaun works as well as the mostly casual clothes the characters wear. Makeup designer Jane Walker does amazing work with the look of the zombies.

Visual effects supervisor Jeremy Hattingh does fine work with the film‘s minimal visual effects that involve the scenes involving the zombies. Sound editor Julian Slater does superb work with the sound with the use of sound effects and scenes set in the pub. The film’s music by Pete Woodhead and Daniel Mudford do wonderful work with the film‘s music as it‘s mostly low-key and playful with its mix orchestral-based music and electronic backgrounds while music supervisor Nick Angel brings a fun soundtrack filled with songs by Chicago, the Smiths, Queen, the Specials, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Ash doing a cover of the Buzzcocks’ Everybody’s Happy Nowadays with Coldplay vocalist Chris Martin.

The casting by Jina Jay is incredible for the ensemble that is created as it features cameo appearances from Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay, Martin Freeman as a co-worker of Shaun, Rafe Spall as a neighbor, Peter Serafinowicz as Shaun and Ed’s house-mate Pete who dislikes Ed, and Jessica Stevenson in a very funny performance as Shaun’s friend Yvonne who also tries to kill zombies. Bill Nighy is excellent as Shaun’s step-father Phillip who tries to get Shaun to be responsible while Penelope Wilton is wonderful as Shaun’s mother Barbara who tries to deal with the chaos of the zombies with Shaun’s help. Dylan Moran is terrific as Liz’s flat mate David who despises Shaun while dealing with the chaos of the zombies. Lucy Davis is hilarious as David’s girlfriend Diane who is an aspiring actress who tries to get everyone to act like zombies while doing her best to kill them.

Kate Ashfield is excellent as Shaun’s girlfriend Liz who tries to deal with Shaun’s immaturity and his friendship with Ed while helping him fight off the zombies. Nick Frost is brilliant as the slacker Ed who spends his time watching TV, play video games, and drink as he is this very witty man-child that seems to be a burden but is also quite resourceful and sympathetic. Finally, there’s Simon Pegg in a remarkable performance as Shaun as a man at a crossroads in his life where he realizes that he has to be responsible while saving those he cares for in this zombie apocalypse. Pegg’s scene with Frost showcase a great chemistry the two have where they definitely have a good time and create a comedy duo that is just fun to watch.

Shaun of the Dead is a magnificent film from Edgar Wright that features the marvelous performances of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film is definitely a comedy that sort of spoofs the zombie films but also add some humor, suspense, and drama to make it something much more. Even as it isn’t afraid to get gory or intense while knowing when not to laugh and give the people something to be engaged by. In the end, Shaun of the Dead is a spectacular film from Edgar Wright.

Edgar Wright Films: (A Fistful of Fingers) - Hot Fuzz - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - The World's End - Baby Driver - The Sparks Brothers - Last Night in Soho

© thevoid99 2013

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